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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Zach Galifianakis

CinemaCon: Jay Roach's 'The Campaign' skewers American politics

April 25, 2012 | 10:30 am


Last year, George Clooney presented his rather cynical perspective on the state of American politics with the drama "The Ides of March." This year, director Jay Roach will offer up a film that arguably has an equally jaded viewpoint, but one which aims to express that acrimony through humor.

"The Campaign," due out in August, stars Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis as rival politicians campaigning for a seat in Congress from North Carolina. Roach was inspired to work on the film after recent campaigns which featured negative advertising and over-the-top debates.

"Truth is even stranger than fiction right now, because the political system is pushing people to such extremes to make a splash," said Roach, who was in Las Vegas this week to promote the comedy at CinemaCon. "It's about who can do the most expensive series of campaign ads to crush your opponent with damning, scandalous facts."

To gather material for the screenplay, Roach and writer Chris Henchy have been steadfast about keeping up with the news -- checking the headlines each day to make sure their script "was still as funny as the real life stuff." 

"A lot of what's going on that gets the most media attention right now is designed to be outrageous. It's almost like being Sacha Baron Cohen; to be noticed, you have to do something so ridiculous," said Roach, who also directed the recent HBO movie about Sarah Palin, "Game Change." " Our thing is to raise questions through comedy like, 'Really? Is this where we're all heading?' Politics is so entertainment-oriented now, and so reality show-like. A movie with two hilarious guys is actually the perfect arena."

Fans of Ferrell may immediately draw comparisons between the actor's performance in the film and his "Saturday Night Live" impression of George W. Bush. But Henchy insists Ferrell is doing something different in "The Campaign" -- more of a Bush-John Edwards hybrid.

"It does take place in North Carolina, so he's got a Southern accent, but he's also got good hair," the writer said. 


CinemaCon: Footage of 'The Hobbit' draws mixed reaction

CinemaCon: 'The Dictator' rips Jeffrey Katzenberg, Rich Ross

CinemaCon: Chris Pine, talking 'Guardians,' nods to J.J. Abrams

-- Amy Kaufman in Las Vegas


Photo: Zach Galifianakis, left, and Will Ferrell star in "The Campaign." Credit: Warner Bros.

Sundance 2012: Tim and Eric walk into a film festival

January 28, 2012 |  2:57 pm

Comedians Tim Heidecker, left, and Eric Wareheim in Park City, Utah.
Nobody does absurdity quite like Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, better known by their personas of Tim and Eric:  hapless bunglers with a mean streak, part lovable friends, part total jerks. So it somehow makes sense they should have two very different projects this year at Sundance, a place where absurdity often reigns, a weird mix of glitz and grunge, scrounging and branding, swag in the snow.

The duo premiered their own debut feature film, "Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie" here as part of the Midnight section, playing to crowds beyond their usual fans. They also both appear as actors in the Narrative Competition film "The Comedy," directed by Rick Alverson. One film is a ridiculous tour of their comedic world and the other a quietly crushing look at coming to the stark realization of what a mess you are.

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'The Hangover Part II' trailer controversy -- monkey joke too much for moviegoers? [Updated]

April 6, 2011 | 12:03 pm

"The Hangover Part II" trailer, which premiered online last week, didn't seem too shocking, but evidently it gave at least a few people pause. Distributor Warner Bros. has requested that movie theaters yank the spot, which had been playing in front of the sci-fi thriller "Source Code," and destroy it. 

The MPAA approves trailers before they are placed in front of particular movies. In this case, the trailer for the "Hangover" follow-up -- which, among other scenes, includes a visual gag involving a water bottle and a monkey performing a simulated sex act -- was approved to run only ahead of R-rated movies. It shouldn't have run before "Source Code," which is rated PG-13, according to a person familiar with the situation who was not authorized to speak about it publicly.

There were no known complaints from "Source Code" theatergoers about the trailer.

According to a document received by the blog /Film, a new trailer will appear in front of the R-rated horror film "Scream 4" when that movie opens April 15. While studios routinely release multiple trailers,  it's unclear whether Warner Bros. planned to release a new trailer for the "Hangover" sequel so quickly or whether the "Source Code" incident prompted that decision. 

The MPAA declined to comment, and a Warner Bros. spokesman did not immediately provide a comment.  [Update, 12:37 p.m.: Warner Bros. has issued a statement, saying, "In our haste to meet the placement schedule for this trailer, we failed to properly vet the final version with the MPAA. We acted immediately to correct the mistake and removed the trailer from screens." The trailer preceding "Scream," meanwhile, will be a version of the original trailer instead of a new piece of material.] The Todd Phillips-directed comedy opens May 26.

For the record, 12:50 p.m.: An earlier version of this post referred to a moment in a film trailer involving monkey genitalia; in fact, the trailer makes a joke about a monkey performing a simulated sex act.


'The Hangover: Part II' trailer takes us back to an earlier day

Bradley Cooper: I'm worried about 'The Hangover' sequel too

Ed Helms says don't expect a 'Hangover 3'

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: "The Hangover: Part II." Credit: Warner Bros.

Zach Galifiakanis, the dead cop?

February 1, 2011 |  7:20 pm

EXCLUSIVE: How dark can Zach Galifianakis go?

The actor, who burst onto the film scene as a slack-jawed oddball in "The Hangover," played a mental patient in the dramedy "It's Kind of a Funny Story" this fall. Now he could be seen in an even grittier role: opposite Ryan Reynolds in the stylized crime drama "R.I.P.D."

Galifia Galifianakis is in talks to play the co-lead in the film, according to two people with knowledge of the project who were not authorized to speak publicly about it. The movie is based on a popular Dark Horse comic about dead police officers patrolling the underworld.

Peter Lenkov created the comic -- the acronym stands for Rest In Peace Department -- which centers on the revenge sought by the recently murdered policeman Nick Cruz (Reynolds). Galifianakis would play another dead police officer.

Robert Schwentke ("Red") is directing the movie, and one person who was briefed on the plans for the Universal Pictures production said that the company aims to shoot in the summer,  when Reynolds has an open slot in his packed schedule. Universal Pictures declined to comment on pending development projects.

Galifianakis is about to get unleashed on the big screen: He reprises his Alan Garner role in "The Hangover 2" this May and follows it up with the role of Hobo Joe in the new "Muppets" movie in November.

-- Steven Zeitchik


 Photo: Zach Galifianakis. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times


Robert Schwentke breathing life into RIPD

Zach Galifianakis on 'Due Date' versus 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles'

November 8, 2010 | 12:00 pm


If you caught "Due Date" over the weekend, the film may have sparked some fond memories of "Planes, Trains and Automobiles," the 1987 classic by John Hughes starring Steve Martin and John Candy. In both movies, two wildly incompatible travelers from opposite ends of the personality spectrum are thrust together by a perfect storm of bad mojo, dumb luck and financial roadblocks to embark on a madcap cross-country journey. A marathon of indignities, car wrecks, rough rides in the back of pickups and, of course, hilarity ensues. 

In "Due Date," Zach Galifianakis plays Ethan Tremblay, the annoying guy-with-heart who shares much in common with Candy's Del Griffith, while Robert Downey Jr.'s Peter Highman is the straight man, just like Martin's Neal Page.

Our own Chris Lee, who interviewed Galifianakis recently, asked him about how the two movies stack up.

Lee: "Planes Trains and Automobiles" -- how much did you guys talk about that movie during production?

Galifianakis: If you see two guys on a road trip that are the opposite of each other, of course that's going to come up. "PT+A" is such a classic movie, I can see where those comparisons will come from. But after people see the movie, I think that talk will stop.

Lee: John Candy leaves his towels on the floor, and you plunge your car off an overpass.

Galifianakis: This is a more extreme version. Again, Robert –- I think Steve Martin's character, which is so wonderful, it would have been tempting to go in that direction. Traveling business man. Trying to get home. Insurance guy. Probably a nice guy. Robert starts off being an angry guy –- which I think is different enough. ["Planes, Trains and Automobiles"] is one of the greatest movies. When John Candy takes his sock off on the plane, that's funny enough. But then he starts beating the bottom of his feet with his sock? It doesn't get much better than that.

Check out some of the similarities between the two films in this slide show.


Betsy Sharkey reviews "Due Date"

Photo: Steve Martin and the late John Candy starred in the 1987 movie "Planes, Trains and Automobiles."  Credit: Paramount Pictures


Zach Galifianakis: A literary lion reborn?

November 3, 2010 |  6:08 pm


Zach Galifianakis had never really considered whether or not he bears any resemblance to American literary titan Ernest Hemingway.

“To Mariel Hemingway, maybe,” Gaifianakis said in an interview last week. “Not the other one.”

That changed, though, when Times photographer Jay L. Clendenin asked the actor-comedian –- who appears in the road-comedy “Due Date,” which hits theaters Friday -- to don a roll-neck sweater and pose in homage to Yousuf Karsh’s 1957 gelatin silver print photograph of “Papa” that hangs in New York’s Museum of Metropolitan Museum of Art. When that happened, the similarities were just too striking.

In a profile in Thursday’s Calendar section, Galifianakis discusses his role as comic foil/muse to writer-director Todd Phillips (“Due Date,” “The Hangover”) and addresses his reported role in nixing Mel Gibson’s cameo in “The Hangover 2.” And with the photo above, of course, channels Ernest Hemingway.

-- Chris Lee

Photo: Zach Galifianakis Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

10/10/10: The 10 best movies of 2010 (so far) that you might have missed

October 10, 2010 | 10:10 am

You know it's award season when the multiplexes start to brim with quality offerings for avid moviegoers. With more and more Oscar-bait films lining up for their theatrical runs in the coming weeks, let's not forget some of the great fare from earlier in the year that's just as deserving of acclaim. Here are 10 of our critics' favorites -- some of which are still playing on the big screen -- to mark the date 10/10/10.

"Animal Kingdom:" The impressive debut of Australian writer-director David Michod manages to be both laconic and operatic. Faultlessly acted by top Australian talent, including Guy Pearce, Ben Mendelsohn and Jacki Weaver, "Animal Kingdom" marries heightened emotionality with cool contemporary style to illustrate one of the oldest of genre truths: "Crooks always come undone, always, one way or another." Michod and his team use all the tools at a filmmaker's disposal to create a disturbing, malignant atmosphere in which every pause is pregnant with menace and every word could cost you your life. -- Kenneth Turan

"Cyrus:" A comedy of discomfort that walks a wonderful line between reality-based emotional honesty and engaging humor, this film demonstrates the good things that happen when the quirky independent style of the Duplass brothers combines with the acting skill of John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei and Jonah Hill. -- Kenneth Turan

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Preview review: 'Hangover' director Todd Phillips births 'Due Date'

July 15, 2010 | 10:51 am

14cskde Ever since the runaway success of "The Hangover," audiences have eagerly awaited a sequel to the breakout Todd Phillips comedy. While they'll have to wait until next year for "The Hangover 2," the director's new "Due Date" might tide over many of that movie's fans.

A trailer for the film, which stars Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis and is out in November, hit the Web on Wednesday, and its tone is reminiscent of the wacky Vegas comedy. Downey  plays Peter Highman, a buttoned-down type who, just before the birth of his first child, is forced into a frantic cross-country road trip with slacker Ethan Tremblay (Galifianakis) after Tremblay gets them both kicked off an airplane.

Judging by the trailer, the road trip produces all kinds of high jinks, as Ethan continually annoys Peter with his eccentricities. We're especially fond of the preview's opening, which starts as a serious moment between the two men, with Peter telling Ethan about how his dad left him as a young boy. That's until Ethan finds humor in the anecdote, breaking out into hysterical laughter and offering up this zinger: "Oh my gosh, my dad would never do that. He loved me!"

Ethan is the type of character Galifianakis excels at playing -- the clueless immature type who takes himself really seriously. Meanwhile, it's nice to see Downey back in a more straitlaced role after his action-hero parts in "Iron Man 2" and "Sherlock Holmes." With Phillips leading them, the movie looks like it will have the kind of manic hysteria that made "The Hangover" so hilarious. And if our expectations weren't lofty enough, during an "Iron Man 2" press junket earlier this year, Downey raised the bar by referring to "Due Date" with this high praise: "It's like the second greatest movie I've ever done."

--Amy Kaufman


Photo: Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifanakis in "Due Date." Credit: Warner Bros.


Zach Galifianakis could be a fish (and the new Don Knotts)

Preview review: Carell and Rudd sit down to 'Dinner for Schmucks'

[UPDATED] Zach Galifianakis, Paul Rudd and the 'Little Miss Sunshine' team, together at last

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Zach Galifianakis could be a fish (and the new Don Knotts)

June 14, 2010 |  1:45 pm


EXCLUSIVE: "The Incredible Mr. Limpet" has always seemed like one of those Hollywood remake projects that actually makes sense. The Don Knotts original, about an ordinary man who becomes a fish and fights the Nazis, is nearly 50 years old, isn't that well remembered and was hardly a classic to begin with.

And with technology coming a long way in the past half-century, there are new means of updating the animated/live-action hybrid, which Warner Bros. began to do last year when it hired "Enchanted" director (and animation/live-action guru) Kevin Lima.

Now that update could be getting an even more modern sensibility. Sources say that producers are talking to Zach Galifianakis to take on the title role. Talks are still ongoing, but if it all works out, Galifianakis will be called upon to bring his brand of weirdo comedy to a character on which Knotts brushed his trademark paint of wide-eyed wacko: a man who, after transforming into a fish, leaves his old life behind to disrupt U-boat maneuvers on the high seas (and finds true love in the process).

(There had been early talk that Johnny Depp may take on the part, but that seems to be motivated more by the actor's involvement in a different spectacle-driven nautical film; he's not likely to star in this one.)

Galifianakis has never played a leading man in a big studio movie, but he's increasingly edging into the frame -- notably in another upcoming Warners movie, a comedy called "Due Date," in which he shares lead billing with Robert Downey Jr.

"Limpet" could be a good segue for the comedian-actor, since he won't be called to carry the film (the technology will take care of that). But he should be able give it enough of a hipster sensibility that it could play to more than just families, especially if Galifianakis really turns on his off-kilter slack-jaw thing. Well, within limits. It might be just a little too weird if a fish wore a BabyBjörn.

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Don Knotts in 'The Incredible Mr. Limpet.' Credit: Warner Bros.

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Preview review: Carell and Rudd sit down to 'Dinner for Schmucks'

April 7, 2010 |  6:23 pm

SchmucksFive or six years after they propelled films like "Anchorman" and "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" to box-office success, Paul Rudd and Steve Carell are teaming up again in July's "Dinner for Schmucks," for which a trailer was released this week.

A remake of the French comedy "Le dîner de Cons" (a hilarious movie we happened to watch in French class?), the film is about a group of colleagues who host a monthly dinner during which they compete to see who can bring the biggest idiot to the meal.

In the film, Rudd plays Tim, a man seeking a promotion who learns that to secure a job bump, he will have to attend said ethically dubiousdinner. When he literally runs into Barry (Carell) -- a dork with a bad haircut who likes to drink Silk-brand milk straight out of the carton while watching animal programs on TV -- he thinks he's got his man. That is, until his friend finds out about the plan, and, not surprisingly, disapproves. There's also another schmuck, played by Zach Galifanakis, who apparently reads minds and sports a creepy beard.

It's nearly impossible not to laugh when Carell is playing zany, awkward characters (think "Virgin"). Rudd also seems to be reprising a role he knows well: the well-meaning straight man  (think "I Love You Man"). The two character types do seem a bit tired at this point, and we want to dismiss the film as more of the same easy fodder -- but the trailer still leaves us hopeful. Maybe it's Carell's full-on commitment to playing a weirdo or the wild card that is Galifanakis,  but based on the trailer, we're buying a ticket.

-- Amy Kaufman

Photo: Paul Rudd and Steve Carell star in "Dinner for Schmucks." Credit: DreamWorks.


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